Yesterday the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) announced that they will be putting £98m into research that assesses the role of culture in contemporary society. The Cultural Value Project aims to ‘explore the ways in which the arts and culture are important in our contemporary society and how we can provide evidence of that importance.’ This funding call coincides with my appointment as Postdoctoral Research Associate: Hearing the Voice at the Durham Book Festival. Made possible through another AHRC initiative, the Cultural Engagement Fund, this position closes a circle between research about the arts and the collaborative relations that have been funded to mediate between researchers and cultural organisations. The Cultural Engagement Fund is a scheme designed to help universities demonstrate the value of their research. Drawing on my background in literary studies, new media and books, my task over the next three months is to plan a series of public engagement events at the Durham Book Festival and help to showcase the quality and diversity of research being undertaken by the Hearing the Voice team.
The collaboration is new and puts both New Writing North (who run the festival) and Hearing the Voice into fresh territory. Working with New Writing North offers a whole range of further opportunities that spill far beyond the book festival. We hope that this short-term project will form a lasting partnership with HtV. So, while demonstrating the literary significance of hearing and managing voices – a phenomenon that gives inspiration for, method in and distraction from the process of literary creation – I also hope that working with New Writing North will show how arts events like Durham Book Festival are of vital importance when trying to address clinical shortcomings and public misconceptions. In the end, we hope to convince people of the relevance of our research but also demonstrate the benefits of working through these kinds of collaborative partnerships.
For more information on our collaboration with New Writing North and the Durham Book Festival, or if you have any suggestions about events or authors you’d like to see, please contact me.